Do Not Grow Weary-Apr. 11, 2012

Do Not Grow Weary-April 11, 2012

“9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Galatians 6:9-10

Often times we are busy, and it becomes an issue of what can we do or what should we do.  With so many options it can be nearly impossible know what to do.  The good things that we do, can also be the same things that wear us down and wear us out.  When we try to accomplish these good things in our own strength and time they can wear us up and leave us on empty.  This can a critical point, because individuals or even churches can experience compassion fatigue.  If this continues for long periods, spiritual apathy can begin to set in, and in the worst case people give up trying to do good all together.

I think there are a few notable things to mention here.  There is in this scripture a mention of time.  “At the proper time” there will be a harvest, don’t give up, but don’t rush as well.  Then there is the instruction that “as we have opportunity” let us do good.  This is also an issue about time.  In our culture where we always seem to have a need to be doing something we spend a great deal of time and energy looking around for something to do, both in our secular and spiritual lives.  The tragedy is in our busyness we have many times missed these same opportunities right in front of us.  In addition, this is the work of the Lord, let him guide and pass you and allow him to work in and through you rather than you try to do his work apart from him.

So let us do good to all people, especially those that belong to the family of believers.  As we do this work, remember that it is his work and in his strength.  To be patient and look for the opportunities (divine appointments) that God place in our paths.  Trusting in good time there will be a harvest for God’s glory.

*This was an abreviated service due to business meeting.

Do Not Hold On To Me-Easter Service-Apr. 8, 2012

Do Not Hold On To Me-Easter Service-April 8, 2012, 11am

Scripture:  Isaiah 25:6-9; John 20:1-18

The Isaiah passage helps to set the understanding for the celebration of the day.  It mentions swallowing up death forever, and he will wipe away all our tears, and he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth.  It is in that day they will say,

“Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us.  This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

We trusted him and he saved us, so let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.

John 20:1-18-Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed, so she comes running to Simon Peter and John, then they come running back to the tomb.  John beats Peter there but doesn’t go in but when Peter catches up he runs right into the tomb to have a look around and John joins him.  Once inside they notice the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head.  In many cultures, when a person gets up from the table if they plan to return they will fold their napkins up to signify they plan to return, when they are finished the just crumple it up to let others know they are through.  The cloth that had been around the head of Jesus was folded, there was more to come.  We also on days like today where we observe the Lord’s Supper we to take the cloth that drapes the elements that are the symbols of Christ’s body and fold it up as well.

I also like the way John’s gospel reads when it describes in verse 8 that when he went inside, he saw and believed.  Verse 9 states they still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.  So they saw and believed even though they did not completely understand or fully know all that scripture revealed about Christ.  It may also be true in our culture today that many in our information hungry culture want to know and understand before they have faith and believe.  It is in believing that we come to understand more of who Christ is as revealed to us in scripture.  They are many that have a head knowledge of the scriptures but their lives are not filled with resurrection joy, because they have not believed.

The disciples leave, but Mary stays weeping and looking into the tomb and sees two angels in white seated at where the head and feet of Jesus had been.  They wanted to know why she was crying.  She responds that, someone she calls they have taken Jesus away, and she doesn’t know where they have put him.  The point of amazement for me is that she is just having this conversation with two angels as if their very presence should be the announcing of the presence of Christ.  She then turns and sees Jesus but doesn’t recognize him.  He calls her woman, which is ok if you’re Jesus, not wise if you are a man addressing your wife or mother, he is the Lord after all.  He asks her who she is looking for?  She thinks Jesus is the gardener and ask if he has carried Jesus away, if he tells her where she will get his body.

Jesus then reveals himself to her by calling her by name the way he calls us by name.  She turns towards him and cries out teacher.  Jesus instructs her not to hold on to him because he has not yet gone to the Father.  Go instead and tell my brothers I am returning to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.  This is interesting because she is told not to hold on to Jesus rather go and tell.  Many times we want to do the same thing we want to hold on to Jesus, his promises, his blessing, and we often forget that he wants us to go and share.  We should share the good news of Christ with others, that he is returning to His Father and His God, but in his work of salvation, he is now our Father and Our God.    Will you worship him today.

Life from Within-Sunrise Service-Apr. 8, 2012

Life From Within-Community Sunrise Service-April 8, 2012, with Palestine Baptist, Huddleston U.M.C., and Mentow Baptist

Mark 16: 1-8

Several things of note in this passage in Mark.  The sabbath had past and it was early on the first day of the week and the ladies have made preparations for the body of Jesus.  They are up early before first light and are on their way to prepare the body of Jesus.  In our context today we honor the first day of the week as Sabbath, but what if we were up early before the sun to honor and serve God?  It seems a little odd in our world that we will get up early for everything from earning a living, hunting, fishing, vacations, trips, kids school activities, extra-curricular activities, etc., but when it comes to spending a little time with the Savior on the first day, third day, or any day often times the same dedication is lacking.  Have we come so far in pursuit of our comforts and sense of self-worth that we no longer seek those things from the Lord, and so it is that we manage our lives rather than letting Christ rule and reign as Lord and Savior.  That is until we are at that rock in our lives, the place we can no longer manage, and then we call out to him.

Even as prepared as the ladies were they began to say to themselves, “who shall roll us away the stone from the sepulchre?”  In route to do what they had all the preparations to do they continue on to the tomb of Christ not knowing how the stone will be moved.  And when they arrived they saw that the stone was rolled away and it was great or large.  There is the stone of sin in our lives and we are powerless despite all our efforts to live that perfect life.  The stone is great, but the power to remove the stone came from the life inside, not the efforts from outside.  It was resurrected life bursting forth in Christ that moved the stone from the grave and also the stone of sin that blocks us from God and weighs us down.  It is Christ working from the inside out in us that we find hope, peace, promise, deliverance, salvation, and life.

As the women enter the tomb they saw a young man in white seated at the right side, clothed in a long white garment and they were afraid.  Recognizing this the young man reassured them not to be afraid and knowing that they are looking for Jesus, he tells them the good news that he is risen and is not there, and they can see the evidence of the place where he had been laid.  Pausing for a momentary thought, the obvious is that we do not seek the living among the dead, and therefore Christ as one who was alive would not be in the place of death.  Death had been conquered.  You would good to find your friend who is living in their home, and not be searching for them in the graveyard.

It is plain what Jesus said about himself, “I am the resurrection and the life, and I am the way, the truth, and then life.”  It is life that we have in Christ and that life bursts forth from the grave of our hearts, to transform and change our lives that we may live for him.  The young man instructs the women not to dwell at the place of death but rather go and tell Peter and the disciples that the resurrected Christ goes before them into Galilee and they will seek him there.  We are to go and tell others about Christ as well knowing the Christ is always before us and will be there.

Scripture records that the women went out quickly, and fled the sepulchre, trembling and amazed, but neither said anything to anyone for they were afraid.  In Mark’s gospel we don’t know why they didn’t tell the others, but in another gospel when they do, they are not believed.  Perhaps, part of their fear was that they would not be believed, what they had seen was almost unbelievable.  So for us today what do we do with the message of Christ, do we hear it and maybe even experience it but do not think that others will believe or find us foolish for doing so, and so we take the light intended to shine for him and place is under a bowl, a light without air will eventually go out.  Will you burn bright for Christ letting your light shine before men?  For it is not that he has called us to be successful but rather faithful.  We can not change what others may do, say, or how they will respond, but he has called us to share the good news will you proclaim the name of Christ today?

A Service of Darkness-Apr. 4, 2012

A Service of Darkness

April 4, 2012

Scripture:  Isaiah 50:4-9a

**How Great is Our God/ How Great Thou Art-Greg and Congregational

Scripture:  Psalm 40:11-14,17

Reading 1:  Judas

The pain didn’t stop.  No matter what he did, Judas could barely lift himself off the ground.  It was as if a tremendous weight was sitting on his chest.  He felt like he could barely breathe.  He leaned against the door of the house of Caiaphas; his hands felt like they weighed a hundred pounds each.  When he knocked on the door, the ache from his knuckles passed through his body, and he nearly collapsed.  The door opened, and Judas could tell by the way the servant stared at him that he must have looked as bad as he felt.  Judas was lead through a hall.  The servant constantly had to stop and wait for Judas to catch up.  The servant took time into a room where the chief priests sat on the floor around a table.  Judas didn’t even recognize the voice that came out of his own mouth:

“What will you give me if I bring Jesus to you?”

They whispered to each other.  It didn’t take them a full minute.  The oldest of the priests stood and counted out 30 pieces of silver into Judas’ hands.  In spite of the cold he felt on his skin, the coins were so hot he thought surely they would brand his palms.  When he stepped into the night, he took a deep breath and filled his lungs with air.  It was the first deep breath he’d taken since he made his decision.  He stood erect, and the pain in his chest and bones was gone.  The throbbing in his head subsided.  But the coins still felt hot in his hand.  He dumped them into a small leather pouch and tied it to his belt.  He couldn’t help hearing the coins jingle when he started walking down the dark road.  It was an annoyance at first, but soon he was able to ignore it.

1st set of candles are extinguished.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. –Chanting

Scripture:  Psalm 69:1-21

Reading 2:  Peter

Peter was the one they called “the rock.”  He was the strong one.  He was the one all the others leaned on when they began to question their beliefs.  But on this night, when Jesus put his hands on Peter’s shoulders, there was pain in the Messiah’s eyes.  He was hurt.  His face had become heavy and no longer looked like he’d be able to smile again.  “Peter,” he said, “tonight you will deny three times that you even know me.  “Peter’s first response was that of disbelief.  He knew there was no way he would deny his friend!  But then he saw the Savior’s eyes.  He knew it was true.  He knew.  Peter’s face then looked determined.  He would prove him wrong!  He would hide!  He would go someplace where there were no people!  He couldn’t betray someone if there was no one to talk to, right?  Right?

2nd set of candles are extinguished.

Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?   Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. –Chanting

**I Stand Amazed In the Presence-Congregational

Scripture:  109:1-31

Reading 3:  The Garden

In the garden, Jesus told his friends to sit and wait for him while he prayed.  He walked just a few yards away before falling to his knees.  He leaned against a large stone and pressed his tired face on the surface.  The night air had become cool-and so was the stone.  The sweat on his face and hands began to chill him.  Finally Jesus lifted himself on his knees and pressed his hands together so tightly that his knuckles turned white.

“Father,” he said, “if it is possible, I don’t want to die this way.  But if you want me to …I will.”

Jesus closed his eyes.  He prayed so hard that blood began to seep from the pores of his skin and fall to the ground like thick clots of mud.

HAMMERING-Sound Effect, (I used at mini-sledge and a hatchet in each hand, the sound is a remarkable effect)

 3rd set of candles are extinguished.

Were you there when they pierced Him in the side?   Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.-Chanting

Video-Are You Amazed!-Featuring the song Your Grace Still Amazes Me, by Philips, Craig, and Den

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?  Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. –Chanting

**This Service was an adaptation from:  The Book of Uncommon Prayer:  Contemplative and Celebratory Prayers and Worship Service for Youth Ministry  By:  Steven L. Case, Zondervan 2002

The Triumphal Entry-Apr. 1, 2012

The Triumphal Entry-April 1, 2012

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Mark 11:1-11

When we look at Psalm 118 we are reminded that we should give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and mercy.  Give thanks for our salvation.  Recognizing in him is our salvation, and that the rejection in human eyes or human terms of Jesus did not change God’s use of Jesus as the cornerstone or capstone.  This is truly the essential piece of any structure.  When considering this Psalm and the corresponding text it is helpful to notice that there is a matter of perspective, such as the stone the builders reject in the Psalm passage to the celebration of Jesus in Mark’s gospel and how quickly attitudes change.

Our perspective plays a big roll in how we see and know Christ, and who we understand him to be.  This does not, however, change the reality of who he is.  An example from scripture is Jesus asks his disciple, who do others say I am, the responses come back, Moses, Elijah, etc.  Then the question becomes more directed, who do you say that I am?  This is always the most important question for the twelve and for all who would be his disciples throughout history, including us today.  Simon’s response is, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  At hearing this Jesus responds that he would receive a new name, Peter and that flesh and blood did not reveal this to him, but rather God himself.  It is God himself who qualifies Jesus, it is God himself who does the work, and it is God himself who qualifies us.

The reality is how we honestly answer this question, not with our words, but our hearts.  If we answer that he is Lord, he is Christ, the Son of the living God, then he is not only worthy to be our Savior but to be worshiped as well.  It is in this that there will inherently be times of sacrifice.  Jesus’ disciples would soon find out how great the sacrifice.  There is an indication in Psalm 118: 27 “with boughs in hand, join the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.”  There seems to be a message that includes sacrifice and going up to the altar.

Triumphal Entry story in Mark’s gospel includes the details that the disciples to go find a colt that has not been ridden on, untie it and bring it to me, if someone should ask just tell the Lord has need of it.  This today would be like walking up into someone’s yard and taking their new car, and giving the explanation that the Lord has need of it and we will bring it back.  Then they placed their cloaks over it and on the ground as well as waving palm branches and shouting, Hosanna!  “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Jesus comes into Jerusalem and looks around, but since it was already late he and the disciples went out to Bethany.  The hour is already late and the hour is late with us as well.  When we look at and consider that Christ has come and will come again, the hour and the day is getting late and the hour is soon at hand.

When that day or hour comes to us, how each answer the question about the identity of Christ is very telling.  It is not an answer that can come by understanding a doctrinal statement, or being told by our parents, but must be answered by our hearts.  If our answer is like that of Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” then the next question becomes will you worship him today?  It may cost you everything, but we must lose our lives to save them.  Will you worship Christ today?

Major Events Of Passion Week

MAJOR EVENTS OF PASSION WEEK

Sunday:          

Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:29-40, John 12:12-19

Monday:          

Jesus clears the temple

Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19: 45-46

Tuesday:         

Jesus’ authority challenged in the temple

Matthew 21:23-27, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 20:1-8

Jesus teaches in stories and confronts the Jewish leaders

Matthew 21:28-23:36, Mark 12:1-40, Luke 20:9-47

Greeks ask to see Jesus

John 12:20-26

The Olivet Discourse

Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21:5-38

Judas agrees to betray Jesus

Matthew 26: 14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:3-6

Wednesday:

The Bible does not say what Jesus did on this day.  He probably remained in Bethany with his disciples

Thursday:        

The Last Supper

Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-20

Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room

      John 13-17

Jesus struggles at Gethsemane

Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:39-46, John 18:1

Jesus is betrayed and arrested

Matthew 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-52, Luke 22:47-53, John 18:2-12

 Friday:            

Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and denied by Peter

Matthew 26:57-27:2,11-31, Mark 14:53-15:20, Luke 22:54-23:25, John 18:13-19:16

Jesus is crucified

Matthew 27:31-56, Mark 15:20-41, Luke 23:26-49, John 19:17-30

Sunday:           

The Resurrection

Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-18

Beware the Leaven-Mar. 28, 2012

Beware the Leaven-March 28, 2012

Mark 8:11-13

In one way the demand for a sign ignores the great miracle work of the feeding of the four thousand, and in another way it implies that Jesus’ authority in preaching the kingdom was not enough proof either.  Thirdly a sign was given at the baptism of Jesus.  Their traditions have blinded them from the word of God.  Have ours perhaps done the same?  Can you think of some ways this may be true today?

Unless people recognize that God is present, speaking, and acting in Jesus, no form of testimony will persuade them to follow him.  No amount of explanation or evidence can provide that initial evidence of faith.  Although Jesus’ refusal seems harsh, it acknowledges the reality of human freedom.  Faith remains a mysterious gift of responding to God’s Word.

Mark 8:14-21

The Pharisees and Herod are enemies of Jesus.   As a metaphor, leaven or yeast frequently carries negative overtones, since it was thought to work by creating decay in the dough.  Although not specific to the Pharisees it seems to speak of the influence of the Pharisees.  The metaphor follows the story of the provision of bread for 4000 people.  In a later time also the infection of others as Jesus compares his body to the bread.

An interesting thought is Jesus’ rebuke of the disciples is not about forgetting food but about the condition of their hearts.  It is about their lack of understanding, and either originated with the disciples, or they have been or are in danger of being corrupted by the decay of Jesus’ opponents, or did they not understand because they did not have the context of the cross and the resurrection.

The crowds treat Jesus’ healings and exorcisms as evidence of his authority.  He is the shepherd who the sheep need.  His family thinks that Jesus may have gone insane.  His opponents feel that he uses satanic powers.  Jesus cannot be a religious teacher, since he shows disregard for training his disciples in piety and careful interpretation of the Law.  How did these things affect Jesus’ disciples?  Christians understand from the passion story:  One disciple betrays Jesus, another denies him, and the rest flee.

What are some examples of leaven that could cause us to become deaf to the gospel?

New Interpreters Bible, Vol. VII, and personal thoughts